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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke February 11, 2019

No, viral photo does not show the KKK at the 1924 Democratic convention

With two Virginia Democrats now under scrutiny for wearing blackface, an old picture of Klansmen marching down a street has reemerged in connection with the Democratic Party.

"This photo was taken at the 1924 Democratic National Convention," reads a Facebook post published on Feb. 3. "It was known as the ‘klanbake’ (just in case you want to Google it)."

The text frames dozens of hooded people walking together. "Reminder that the KKK = Democrats," the post says at the bottom.

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

PolitiFact has already fact-checked a claim that the Ku Klux Klan was formed by the Democratic Party (that’s false, and you can read why here). But did Klansmen crowd the 1924 convention? Well, there was a gathering of the KKK across the Hudson River on the 10th day of the political convention that year — but this photo that's making the rounds on social media is not from that event.

Here's what we know.

Featured Fact-check

The Democratic National Convention was held at Madison Square Garden in New York in 1924. Back then, according to the New York Times, the KKK was "the most powerful bloc in the Democratic Party."

It was the longest convention in American history, the paper reported in the March 15, 2016, story, replete with fistfights, roosters and the defeat of a resolution some delegates proposed that would have condemned the KKK.

The convention is often referred to as the "Klanbake," according to Politico. During the convention, 20,000 klansmen attended a rally across the river in New Jersey. But the photo pictured in the Facebook post isn’t from that rally, or from the convention. According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, Arthur Vinje, a photographer for the Wisconsin State Journal, took it in Madison, Wisconsin, on Dec. 2, 1924. Klansmen were parading down King Street to Schroeder Funeral Home for the funeral of a police officer, Herbert Dreger.

Our ruling

Though the 1924 Democratic National convention did come to be known as the klanbake, the photograph the Facebook post alleges was taken there is actually a picture from several states away as Klansmen walked to a funeral service.

We rate this post False.

Our Sources

Facebook post, Feb. 3, 2019

The New York Times, "G.O.P. path recalls Democrats convention disaster, in 1924," March 15, 2016

Wisconsin Historical Society, Photograph: Ku Klux Klan Parade, visited Feb. 8, 2019

The Associated Press, "Not real news: Thousands of KKK members didn’t march down Fifth Avenue in 1924," Oct. 18, 2018

Politico, "1924: The wildest convention in U.S. history," March 7, 2016

The Washington Post, "The day 30,000 white supremacists in KKK robes marched in the nation’s capital," Aug. 11, 2018

The Washington Post, "How social media spread a historical lie," March 15, 2018

Kambree Kawahine Koa tweet, March 3, 2018

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More by Ciara O'Rourke

No, viral photo does not show the KKK at the 1924 Democratic convention

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